Michael Lewis dominated the first Pirelli World Challenge GT race on the streets of St Petersburg in his EFFORT Racing Porsche 911, securing his first win in the category.
Poleman Lewis led from the the rolling start, with fellow front-row starter Alvaro Parente’s K-PAX McLaren bring hit by Johnny O’Connell ‘s Cadillac at Turn 1, albeit the Portuguese driver held on to second.
Lewis held a solid lead at the end of lap one, with Parente just under a second behind in the early going as O’Connell fell off their pace.
Austin Cindric’s McLaren slipped back from P4 on the grid to sixth in the opening exchanges, Michael Cooper rising to fourth in the second Cadillac, ahead of JD Davison’s Nissan GTR.
Lewis got the hammer down as the race approached half distance, extending to a 6s lead by lap 20, and was 10s ahead as he cruised to a serene first victory.
Davison’s fifth-placed Nissan was forced to pit with rear-end damage after 18 laps, rejoining without his rear wing, which promoted Cindric and the Gainsco McLaren of Jon Fogarty.
COTA accident victim Patrick Long’s charge to towards the front of the field from the back of the grid (after he was forced to miss qualifying) was a highlight of the event, Long barging his EFFORT Porsche 911 past Ryan Eversley’s Acura on his way to seventh – and lapping just as quickly as his race-winning teammate.
Eversley also clashed with Andrew Palmer’s Bentley at Turn 1, spinning the Continental GT3 but letting him back past moments later. He finally passed him at Turn 1 after Palmer clipped the wall exiting the final corner.
Andrew Davis (Porsche), Bryan Heikotter (Nissan) and Eversley rounded out the top 10.
In the GTA class, Martin Fuentes led all the way from Frankie Montecalvo – Fuentes ruffling the feathers of some of the GT class tailenders.
Sloan Urry led the GT Cup element from start to finish, ahead of Alec Udell.